Remember the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They care nothing about your interests or your profit. They seek service for themselves. Ignoring this fact is a common mistake and costly mistake in advertising. Ads say in effect, “Buy my brand. Give me the trade you give to others. Let me have the money.”
That is not a popular appeal.
The best ads ask no one to buy. That is useless. Often they do not quote a price. They do not say that dealers handle the product.
The ads are based entirely on service. They offer wanted information. They cite advantages to users. Perhaps they offer a sample, or to buy the first package, or to send something on approval, so the customer may prove the claims without any cost or risks. Some of these ads seem altruistic. But they are based on the knowledge of human nature. The writers know how people are led to buy.
Here again is salesmanship. The good salesman does not merely cry a name. He doesn’t say, “Buy my article.”
He pictures the customer’s side of his service until the natural result is to buy.
A brush maker has some 2,000 canvassers who sell brushes from house to house. He is enormously successful in a line that would seem very difficult. And it would be if his men asked the housewives to buy.
But they don’t. They go to the door and say, “I was sent here to give you a brush. I have samples here and I want you to take your choice.” The housewife is all smiles and attention. In picking out one brush she sees several she wants. She is also anxious to reciprocate the gift. So the salesman gets an order.
Another concern sells coffee, etc., by wagons in some 500 cities. The man drops in with a half-pound of coffee and says, “Accept this package and try it. I’ll come back in a few days to ask you how you liked it.”
Even when he comes back he doesn’t ask for an order. He explains that he wants to send the women a fine kitchen utensil. It isn’t free, but if she likes the coffee he will credit five cents on each pound she buys until she has paid for the article. Always some service.
The maker of the electric sewing machine motor found advertising difficult. So, on good advice, he ceased soliciting a purchase. He offered to send to any home, through any dealer, a motor for one week’s use. With it would come a man to show how to operate. “Let us help you for one week without cost or obligation,” said the ad. Such an offer was resistless, and about nine in ten of the trials led to sales.
So in many, many lines. Cigar makers send out boxes to anyone and say, “Smoke ten, and then keep them or return them, as you wish.”
Makers of books, typewriters, washing machines, kitchen cabinets, vacuum sweepers, etc., send out their products without any prepayment. They say, “Use them, then do as you wish.” Practically all merchandise sold by mail is sent subject to return.
These are all common principles of salesmanship. The most ignorant peddler applies them. Yet the salesman-in-print very often forgets them. He talks about his interest. He blazons a name, as though that was of importance. His phrase is “Drive people to the stores,” and that is his attitude in everything he says.
People can be coaxed but not driven. Whatever they do they do to please themselves. Many fewer mistakes would be made in advertising if these facts were never forgotten.
Written in 1923, Scientific Advertising is published here as 21 blog posts – one for each chapter.